Blue Spoons: Sparking Communication About Appropriate Technology Use

72 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2022

See all articles by Arun G. Chandrasekhar

Arun G. Chandrasekhar

Stanford University - Department of Economics

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Michael Kremer

University of Chicago

João Pugliese

Stanford University

Jonathan Robinson

University of California, Santa Cruz

Frank Schilbach

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Economics, Finance, Accounting (EFA)

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Date Written: September 8, 2022

Abstract

An enduring puzzle regarding technology adoption in developing countries is that new technologies often diffuse slowly through the social network. Two of the key predictions of the canonical epidemiological model of technology diffusion are that forums to share information and higher returns to technology should both spur social transmission. We design a large-scale experiment to test these predictions among farmers in Western Kenya, and we fail to find support for either. However, in the same context, we introduce a technology that diffuses very fast: a simple kitchen spoon (painted in blue) to measure out how much fertilizer to use. We develop a model that explains both the failure of the standard approaches and the surprising success of this new technology. The core idea of the model is that not all information is reliable, and farmers are reluctant to develop a reputation of passing along false information. The model and data suggest that there is value in developing simple, transparent technologies to facilitate communication.

JEL Classification: D83,D9,O13,Q10

Suggested Citation

Chandrasekhar, Arun G. and Duflo, Esther and Kremer, Michael and Francisco Pugliese, João and Robinson, Jonathan and Schilbach, Frank, Blue Spoons: Sparking Communication About Appropriate Technology Use (September 8, 2022). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2022-123, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4213679 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4213679

Arun G. Chandrasekhar

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-544
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-258-7013 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.povertyactionlab.org/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

Michael Kremer (Contact Author)

University of Chicago

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

João Francisco Pugliese

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Jonathan Robinson

University of California, Santa Cruz ( email )

1156 High St
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States

Frank Schilbach

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Economics, Finance, Accounting (EFA) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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